Town of Kensington Strongly Condemns Attacks on our local Religious Institutions

Dear Kensington Community:

Temple Emanuel’s sign featuring the Star of David and support for Israel was vandalized over the weekend. The Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) has classified this as a hate crime. The Town of Kensington strongly condemns attacks on our local religious institutions, including antisemitic attacks that are meant to intimidate and alienate Jewish members of our community.

The Maryland State Police and the Montgomery County Police reported an alarming rise in hate and bias incidents in 2022, and that trend has accelerated since October 7, 2023. In Montgomery County, over 90% of incidents motivated by bias towards religion were considered anti-Jewish – despite Jewish persons making up only 10% of the county’s population. At a time when many are feeling anguish over the war in Gaza and Israel, we must not allow anti-Jew, or anti-Muslim, bias and hate incidents to become normalized. We call on our community to denounce acts of hate that seek to divide us.

Almost a year ago we held a community training event at the Kensington Town Hall with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD). At this event, participants learned that when such incidents occur, it is important to immediately report them to the police so that they can collect evidence and begin investigations. Specifically, we were advised:

  • If you see something, say something. Always call 911 if you witness a bias or hate incident. Even if you are not sure something you see merits reporting (graffiti for example), it is best to contact the police so that they can make a determination how to proceed. You never know when a small piece of information could prove valuable to an investigation. You should also report bias and hate incidents to the ADL using their online reporting tool.
  • Be a good witness. If you do witness a potential bias incident or hate crime occurring, in addition to calling 911, do what you can to capture details that will be helpful to law enforcement (e.g., time of day, location, make and model of car and license plate numbers, etc.). If you have a home or business security camera that could have captured relevant video footage, contact the police.
  • If you have any information regarding this latest incident at Temple Emanuel, please contact the Montgomery County Police Crime Solvers TIPS line at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

At the training event, we also discussed how we can work together to deter such hateful acts.

We learned that it is important to confront hate and bias incidents early, otherwise they can escalate into more harmful behavior including physical attacks.

Here are some of the ideas and resources that were shared by participants.

  • Talk with your kids, family members, and others about bias and hate and how it hurts all of us. We need to confront bias in early stages so it doesn’t escalate into more harmful activity. And, as much as possible, have these conversations in real life, not back and forth online. You can find resources online at ADL.orgNot in Our Specifically, you might find the following guides helpful:
  • Empowering Young People in the Aftermath of Hate: An “evergreen” resource for when issues of bias or hate occur. There is suggested language for families and educators based on the grade level of the child.
  • Anti-Muslim Bias and Acting As An Ally: This resource explains how to recognize and confront bias and how you can increase understanding and show support for Muslim people.
  • Antisemitism Today: This Table Talk is designed for families to discuss current information about the state of antisemitism in the U.S. today.

We must remain vigilant and committed to creating a community that welcomes and supports all people. We ask neighbors to have the courage to talk to each other. Please check in with people in our community who may be feeling isolated or unsafe because of the rise in hate incidents and harmful rhetoric. Continue to build relationships and show up for community events. Our visible strength and connections can help to deter those who seek to divide us.

Mayor Furman and the Kensington Town Council